A group of pupils from Years 5 and 6 at Walton Priory Middle School enjoyed an amazing experience on Saturday when they were invited to be ball boys for Walsall FC’s crucial league one clash against Colchester United. With Walsall having made an excellent start to the season but needing pouts to maintain their promotion hopes and Colchester fighting against relegation it was very important for both teams.
The game also marked the home debut of Walsall manager Jon Whitney and as a result the ground was packed with almost 6000 people in attendance. For all of the Walton Priory students this was the first time they had visited Walsall to be ball boys so it was a new and exciting experience!
It was also an honour for the school to be asked to do the job for one of Walsall’s most important game of the season with director of Community Scott Sumner commenting that he had no hesitation in inviting the children as in previous visits for schools organised by their teacher Mr Mobberley their effort and behaviour had always been impeccable and they are always perfect ambassadors for the school and club.
Before the game the children enjoyed 90 minutes football at the academy pitch before the main part of the afternoon begun. About 20 minutes before kick off they went out onto the pitch, lead out by Luke Evans and lined up to meet and welcome the teams onto the pitch. They then took their pitch side seats, which were undoubtably the best in the ground, to help the game run smoothly and hopefully do their bit to help the Saddlers maintain their place in the league’s promotion places.
The atmosphere around all 4 sides of the ground was fantastic from the beginning with chances and mistakes for both teams but when Colchester scored shortly before half time this was a real setback and the crowd and players were clearly frustrated an atmosphere which continued until the dying minutes when Walsall scored a dramatic equaliser in the 90th minute through Tom Bradshaw and then to top it off a dream winner through Matt Preston in the 4th minute of injury time.
The boys who were on duty behind the net where these two goals were scored described the atmosphere and celebration among the players as amazing and they undoubtably had the best view of the goals of anyone in the ground.
This was a real afternoon to remember with all of the 16 pupils having a story to tell about something they heard or saw from their pitch side seats. They were all buzzing at the end and are thrilled to have done their bit to help The saddlers push towards the summint of league one. A signed Walsall ball and was awarded to Ryan Jones from Year 6 for showing a stand out effort in training and marking his 1st time as a Walsall ball boy.
The group are hoping they may have another chance to visit and do the same again, maybe before the end of this season or next year when Walsall are hopefully in the Championship!